Christian charity chief savages the scandal of poverty

Loretta minghella cropped

Loretta Minghella addresses the general massembly of the Church of Scotland.

​Charity chief executive delivers a powerful speech to the Church of Scotland's general assembly

Graham Martin's photo

29th May 2017 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

Poverty is “an avoidable scandal that robs people of their dignity and diminishes us all,”  the chief executive of a major Christian charity has said.

In a powerful speech to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland Loretta Minghella OBE, head of Christian Aid UK, said ending poverty means changing attitudes here at home as well as in the world’s poorest countries.

She told an audience that included HRH The Princess Royal: “Never has there been a more important time to connect the local national and global pictures: to challenge the devastating myth of them and us.”

Identifying climate change and discrimination against women as two of the key causes of global poverty, Minghella, sister to the late film director Anthony Minghella, said Christian Aid is empowered by its “transformational partnership” with the church.

“We are your international development agency and it is your unflagging commitment that drives our work forward,” she told the assembly.

“We share your belief that poverty is an avoidable scandal that robs people of their dignity and diminishes us all.

“Our firm faith statement: of we believe in life before death calls us into transformational partnerships that let the changes begin in us.”

In 2010, she made her first overseas visit for Christian Aid to Nairobi, Kenya, and was changed forever.

She said: “I met children too weak with hunger to walk to school, their grandfather dying next to them for want of £12 for his cancer treatment. His daughter an intelligent young woman who realising his death was very imminent was contemplating trading her virginity so that the family could afford to bury him.

“You cannot meet someone agonising over such a possibility and remain the same.”

Telling the annual gathering of the Kirk that climate change is making extreme weather events, such as drought, famine, floods and hurricanes, more frequent and that the people most affected are those least responsible for causing it, she told the assembly it is up to us in the developed world to take action to solve the problem.  

Across the globe wars, conflicts, drought and famine have resulted in more than 65 million people fleeing their homes and Minghella said that loving our neighbour means helping those displaced people.

Projects that support equality for women across the world are crucial, she said.

“Everywhere I go across the 40 countries in which we work, I see this stark truth - that women and girls are much more likely to be poor, less likely to finish school, more likely to die young, more likely to be a victim of sexual violence, less likely to be given a job or a political voice, or opportunities to lead.

“Empowering our women and men to speak up for gender justice is key to changing a world that excludes women from the centre.”

The charity chief’s message was not all gloom. She also pointed to signs of hope, saying the Church and Christian Aid have a partnership that is bringing new technologies that can help end poverty.


30th May 2017 by Tiiu-Imbi Miller

I agree with much of this. Poverty is wrong, and it is a sin not to fight it, and it diminishes us all to allow it, but why should a man necessarily lose his dignity because he is poor? Does a man’s value depend on what money he has? Is not dignity and worth more to do with what is within a man, not what he has, at least according to Christian values? When I learned a couple of years ago that Christian Aid paid £130,000 per annum to their chief executive I felt embarrassed to go collecting for them from people who have so much less, even in the pretty well off neighbourhood where I live. If even a Christian charity cannot find competent people to do the job for a less excessive salary then indeed we are buying into the notion that it is money that matters, and by which a person’s worth is measured.